China holds drill to shut down ‘harmful’ websites
China / August 8, 2017

China has carried out an internet drill to practise closing down websites the authorities consider to be harmful. State run media said Thursday’s exercise was also aimed at forcing internet data centres to hand over contact details of website owners. China already operates a strict internet censorship regime. Analysts say it appears to be tightening controls ahead of an important political meeting later this year. Beijing also recently began cracking down on VPNs (virtual private networks) which allow internet users to circumvent censorship and surveillance. Thursday’s exercise involved officers from the internet surveillance department at the public security ministry contacting internet data centres and asking them to target websites that host content deemed harmful, state media said. The centres were asked to practise shutting down targeted web pages quickly and to report details of their owners to the police. The BBC’s John Sudworth in Beijing says that over a two-and-a-half hour period the drill reportedly shut down a number of sites. At least four participants confirmed the drill, including the operator of Microsoft’s cloud service in China, Reuters reported. Image captionChina tries to tightly control access to online content A document circulating online and attributed to a cyber police unit…